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President, I speak to supplement the content of speeches made by my colleagues of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong. Today in this Council, we have heard very clearly that bid-rigging is a very serious problem, and the community also thinks that the Government should do more to solve the problem. Of course it is desirable to refurbish old buildings and improve the dilapidated facilities, but if the good will of the Government is not supported with any policy, it will give rise to issues such as bid-rigging and fraud, as in the present situation.
I declare that I am a member of the Competition Commission (Commission). The Competition Ordinance will come into effect on 14 December, 2015, that is, about two weeks later. The Commission is ready to carry out its duties, one of which is to combat bid-rigging. Bid-rigging is a serious act against the principle of competition. In the past, if the bid-rigging syndicates have not contravened the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, big-rigging is not considered an offence. Nonetheless, when the Competition Ordinance takes into effect on 14 December, bid-rigging will become an offence. This can significantly crack down on such activities which violate the principle of competition and detrimental to the interests of consumers and enterprises, as well as overall economic activities.
According to the policy of the Commission, its priority task is to combat bid-rigging. We are conducting a large-scale market research on building repair works, so as to collect extensive data to analyse the performance of the market in the area of building repair works. We have also co-operated with the Urban Renewal Authority and the Hong Kong Housing Society to review the tendering of past building repair works. Apart from observing whether there are systematic acts of bid-rigging in the building repair market, we also hope that through this research, we can identify policies that require amendment and areas where public education should be enhanced in order to combat bid-rigging activities. Although this study is only halfway through, the data collected so far indicate that bid-rigging activities are very rampant in Hong Kong.
I support what my colleagues have said. Although the Government may not necessarily set up a regulatory body, a department must be assigned to collect all information relating to building repair works for the purpose of setting up a vast database. With a database, we can easily observe whether acts of bid-rigging have occurred in building repair works. For example, if the names of engineering consultancy firms and maintenance companies often come together, one has to stay alert to see if bid-rigging has taken place. Therefore, if sufficient data can be provided for scrutiny by OCs, the situation of bid-rigging can be detected easily.
On the other hand, to successfully combat bid-rigging, we cannot merely rely on the Commission, the concerted efforts of the Police, the ICAC and some specialized government departments, as well as the co-operation of professional bodies are also needed. Nonetheless, in order to facilitate law-enforcement departments to join hands with other government departments to combat bid-rigging, the Government, especially the two Secretaries, must have the commitment and the strength to lead various departments to act together. Just now, many of my colleagues, especially Mr LO Wai-kwok, have already mentioned some of the serious problems that may arise when buildings are undergoing repair works in the future. The amount incurred in these works may reach tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.
If the Government really cares about the public, the money allocated for the said purposes is far from adequate. The Government must allocate more money to alleviate public grievances and help more small property owners. This is precisely what the Government should do. The Hong Kong Government has a very robust financial position, I believe that spending a small amount of money to solve the problems faced by a majority of people is a worthy cause.
I support the original motion.